DALLAS -- With discomfiting frequency, bands showing even the slightest hint of forward momentum are being thrust into large venues by an industry ravenous for success. Such rash decisions can often force a young act to assume a mantle that can rest uneasily.
No such worries for Mumford & Sons, a British folk foursome led by Marcus Mumford: they played the cozy Cambridge Room in March, returning as headliners to the same building, albeit in the spacious main room at Dallas' House of Blues Thursday night. Brimming with confidence and facing a sold-out crowd shouting lyrics back at them, it was a near-perfect snapshot of what can happen with a lot of skill, a little luck and a clutch of indelible songs that ache like long-buried love notes.
Touring behind their critically acclaimed debut, Sigh No More, and its popular (and profane) single, Little Lion Man, Mumford and his bandmates doled out a tight collection of bristling folk tunes that often made the House of Blues feel like a raucous pub (the two horn players providing occasional accompaniment didn't hurt either). Songs like the album's title track or Winter Winds showcased the band's penchant for spine-tingling four-part harmonies that hung in the air, lingering like smoke. Added to that was the dexterous display of musicianship; Mumford & Sons makes a little sound like a lot. There's no drummer to speak of -- Mumford himself sings, plays guitar and thwacks a kick drum with his right foot -- and the musicians rapidly shift from piano to accordion to banjo to upright bass. It makes for densely packed songs exploding into choruses that fill your heart with warmth when a few thousand people chant them.
Although many are just learning of Mumford & Sons -- not many in Thursday's crowd, mind you; these were clearly passionate, long-time fans that knew Sigh No More inside and out -- the band itself is already pivoting toward what comes next. The fellas debuted a few new songs, such as Below My Feet, which hints at a more epic sound, befitting the sorts of ever-larger crowds they're finding themselves before. Hopefully, Mumford & Sons doesn't lose sight of the earthy, deeply romantic style which has brought them so much attention to date. The only thing worse than a band anointed too soon is one hastening to scramble away from that which has attracted fame.
My apologies, but no video for this review. My FlipCam's batteries gave up the ghost as I tried to record some of the opener, Cadillac Sky.